11 Reasons to Make Your Art this Year

11 Reasons To Write the Novel / Launch the Biz / Make Your Art This Year

In a strife-filled world, it’s easy to feel like making art is frivolous. Inflation is at an all-time high, people everywhere are dying of cancer and Trump still hasn’t been disqualified from running for President. Faced with hard knocks such as these, you might succumb to the notion that creativity is, at best, a luxury and, at worst, a gross misuse of time.

This misconception creates a butterfly effect. It affects the teens who don’t have access to theatre classes because their high school’s arts funding was cut. It affects the untold thousands (millions?) of people working jobs they hate because they believe there’s no stability in doing what they love. It affects their friends and family because they’re engaging with someone whose light is dimmed, whose patience is worn thin, and whose legacy may be little more than “diligent worker” or “pusher of paper.”

If everyone suffers in a world sans creative expression (even just a little, and even if they aren’t aware of it), well, that right there is proof that art is not a luxury.

If nature is one epic creative force, doesn’t it stand to reason that we, as an extension of nature, were put on this earth to create?

If you’re with me so far, nodding your head as you read along, let me pose a question:

What’s stopping you from making this the year you finally write your book or launch your Etsy store or actually bring the big idea that’s been bouncing around your brain to life?

Maybe one of the following reasons will convince you there’s no time like the present.

1. You might brighten someone’s day.

Whether it’s a photograph that proves there are still magical places in the world (look at it in full-screen mode . . . just wow) or a touching personal encounter you’ve put down on paper, it just might put a smile on someone else’s face.

2. You might ease someone’s suffering.

We all yearn desperately to belong, but life can be an isolating experience. If sharing your story helps even one person realize they are not alone, you have accomplished an extraordinary thing.

3. Art gives you a voice.

The arts champion individuality, freedom and self-expression, the very ideals on which our nation is built. What a misfortune it would be to not use such a gift.

4. If your kids see you making art and enjoying yourself, that’s good for everyone.

It’s a no-brainer: happy parents make for happy families. Perhaps you’ll even encourage your kids to take up a creative hobby rather than becoming the reigning Warzone champion. Most importantly, if they see you going after a dream, they’ll know it’s okay to go after theirs.

5. Turning our problems into narratives can help us work through them.

Art can be an outlet for extreme emotion. I don’t know what this brings to mind for you, but I envision aggressively hurling cans of paint at a massive canvas. While not likely to become a reality for me any time soon, it sounds cathartic.

Beyond visual art, however, writing about our problems as a creative narrative can help put them into perspective. This study had test subjects write about emotional experiences for 15 minutes+ over the course of three days. Compared to the control group (who wrote about something mundane), participants became triggered during the exercise. Nonetheless, 98% said they would return to it in the future. This suggests that constructing stories helps us understand our experiences and ourselves. Organizing and remembering events in a coherent fashion while integrating thoughts and feelings gives us a sense of control over our lives.

This is why I can’t recommend journaling highly enough.

6. Creativity cures burnout.

I get it. At the end of a long day, collapsing onto the couch and catching up on The Magicians sounds like just the salve to heal your worn-out soul. But often when you feel like you need rest, what you really need is to feel excited and inspired about something.

It’s game-changing to discover that involvement in a fascinating project can heal you. Often by 7 pm, I think I can’t bear to do anything more complex than binge watch Sabrina, only to start working on my current paint-by-number and suddenly realize it’s midnight.

7. You can spend more time in the flow state.

You’ve had this experience. It describes losing time for five hours as I did in the last example. Any time you’re fully immersed in an activity you love, you feel focused and energized.

This feeling stands in direct opposition to how you feel when you emerge from a rabbit hole of doom scrolling or television binging. When you blink away the haze and wonder how so much time has passed and you have absolutely zero to show for it.

This is why activities like painting, sculpting, dancing and making music can improve your mood. A growing body of scientific evidence indicates that flow is highly correlated not only with happiness but also better concentration and higher self-esteem.

8. Art is an act of bravery.

We can never know ahead of time if a project will turn out the way we want it to. Taking the plunge anyway is a true act of bravery.

Furthermore, every time you tackle a new challenge, you increase your self-efficacy. Even if you “fail,” dusting yourself off and moving forward expands your powers of resilience. All of this, in turn, enhances confidence, which makes you inclined to make more art.

If what stands between you and doing the thing is feeling like you come up short in the confidence department, consider the MISOGI Method. It’s based on an ancient Japanese Shintō ritual of purification to rid oneself of negative baggage and welcome in a new, positive, life-changing spirit. Popularized by Jody B. Miller in her book, The MISOGI Method: The Way to Achieve Lasting Happiness and Success, the rules of modern-day misogi are as follows :

  1. A misogi is something you choose to do that takes you far outside your comfort zone.
  2. It must have a 50 percent or greater chance of failure.
  3. It can’t kill or harm you or anyone else.

Tackling an activity like this can radically expand your idea of what’s possible. And showing up in spite of your fear will prove that you are much more capable than you ever imagined yourself to be.

9. Your story matters.

What you create is your legacy. Therefore, it most definitely matters.

I regret that my dad didn’t put more of his stories down on paper before he passed. He had fascinating tales of being raised by a father who claimed to be his foster dad but wasn’t, and a housekeeper who smacked him every day when he got home from school because she figured he’d probably done something he ought to be ashamed of. And then there were the Libya years, where he played diplomat by offering baksheesh (bribes) to the local police so he could get friends out of trouble and into the speakeasies. He always longed to write a memoir; he even sent me a few chapters. But then life – and cancer – happened.

And that’s what compelled me to devote myself to making sure nobody else dies with their story still inside them.

1o. To prove them wrong.

I’m constantly on a soapbox about caring less about what other people think. But sometimes it’s nice to accomplish something that allows you to tell your 11th-grade AP English teacher to suck it.

I know. Weirdly specific, isn’t it?

11. Because you want to make beautiful things, not excuses.

There will never be a better time than right now.

But now isn’t good, you say. The dog is sick and you agreed to bake cupcakes for the bake sale. A little later / someday / one day will be better. But it won’t be. Good work takes time, and time is fleeting. Let the pandemic – that still feels like it’s only recently in our rear view mirror – be a reminder to seize the fucking day.

If your passion project tugs at your consciousness, if it makes your heart flutter a bit to think of doing it, even if it scares you (especially if it scares you) . . . start now.

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